Visitor numbers at SPS/IPC/Drives defy downturn
Despite the severe downturn in the German automation sector, the annual SPS/IPC/Drives exhibition managed to attract slightly more visitors to the 2009 event than attended in 2008. The show’s organisers say that the rise in visitor numbers – from 48,105 in 2008 to 48,595 this year – “exceeded all expectations” and that it was “a clearly positive sign for the whole automation industry”.
But the number of exhibitors at the automation and motion engineering show, held in Nuremberg in late November, fell from 1,386 in 2008 to 1,237 this year. The total exhibition space decreased from 94,700m2 in 2008, to 89,000m2. And signs of the economic squeeze were also evident at the show’s conference, where the number of delegates dropped from 406 in 2008 to 281 this year.
The German automation sector, which relies on exports for 78% of its business, is expected to shrink by 20–25% this year, compared to 2008 when it was worth almost €46bn. But, according to Roland Bent, a board member of the industry’s trade body, ZVEI Automation, “the freefall in orders seems to be over”. Speaking on the first day of the show, Bent predicted that the sector would return to growth – albeit small – in 2010.
The proportion of non-German exhibitors at the 2009 SPS/IPC/Drives show was the same (21%) as in 2008. Although the exhibition does not promote itself as an international event, “we have become a marketplace for international suppliers,” says Johann Thoma, president of the show organiser, Mesago. The largest contingents of non-German exhibitors were from Italy (49), Switzerland (38) and China (29). There were just 14 British companies taking part – the same number as in 2008.